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My response to the A-Z challenge. (I cheated.)
All About Music
Member Name: hogsflesh
All About Music
Date: 07/07/04, updated on 07/07/04 (164 review reads)
Advantages: These are all songs that, I think are genuinely , great - I love them all
Disadvantages: The format is quite, limiting, but then that?s the, challenge, I suppose
(This is part of a ?challenge? - the rules are really easy - go through each letter of the alphabet, find a band or song or whatever that begins with that letter, write about it. I?ll include the full rules at the bottom of the op.) (Actually, I?ve blatantly changed the rules to suit me, as I don?t think I?m supposed to use song titles as entries. If you were planning on writing one of these then I?d suggest you do the same, makes it so much easier. I am nothing if not lazy.)
So, anyone desperate to know the names of 26 songs that I like? Then you?re in luck. This is a kind of snapshot of what I?ve been listening to lately; I can?t really provide any more justification than that for including any specific song.
A) Atlantis by Donovan.
Magnificent utopian hippie fare as everyone?s favourite spaced-out balladeer gets kind of cosmic. The greatest spoken word section of anything in the history of pop, and a song that?s more a blissed out chant than an actual song, you?d have to be extremely curmudgeonly not to like this one.
B) Bonnie Tyler - Total Eclipse of the Heart.
Perhaps the supreme example of 80s soft rock excess. Ms Tyler screams herself hoarse while thunderous organs roar in the background. And Jim Steinman?s lyrics excel anything else he ever did - ?We?re living in a powder keg and giving off sparks.? Indeed we are.
C) Johnny Cash - Ring of Fire.
Although generally more successful with sad songs, the Man in Black enchanted the whole world with this complicated metaphor for falling in love. You just have to hear the trumpet intro to know that you?re in for a couple of minutes of croaky Western fun.
D) Donna Summer - MacArthur Park.
Presumably we all know and love Richard Harris?s magnum opu
s, MacArthur Park, one of the most perfectly grandiose songs ever put on record. How could it possibly be improved on, you might ask. The answer is simple, my befuddled friends: Disco! Donna Summer turns a masterpiece into an entirely different kind of masterpiece. Lovely.
E) Ennio Morricone - For a Few Dollars More main theme.
Morricone has a rare talent to make soundtracks for films that actually bear listening to by themselves. The piece of music I have in mind (it may not actually be the main theme) is the one that starts off with the musical watch sound, then bursts into over-the-top life with some heavy pipe organ and squealing trumpets. You know the one I mean.
F) Fraser Hines - Who?s Dr Who.
I love novelty records of yesteryear. Minor celebrities making fools of themselves, weird little fads that fizzled out almost as soon as they were born, inappropriate tie-ins to TV shows - these things make me smile. Fraser Hines was a popular Dr Who assistant in the late 60s, and here he sings a twee little song about the Doctor. The heavy, almost prog version of the Dr Who theme that starts the song is probably the best bit, but if you?re like me then you?ll stick with it and learn to appreciate the rest of the song.
G) Glenn Campbell - Wichita Lineman.
Hell yes. A lovely, lovely song, totally without pretension. Not completely sure what a lineman is, but when I hear this, by god I wish I was one.
H) Rupert Holmes - The Pina Colada Song.
Classic story about the spark going from a marriage, and the husband?s attempts to have an illicit relationship through the personals column in his local paper. Not everything goes quite to plan. Hilarious for its evocation of late-70s/early-80s
ideas of glamour and romance.
I) In the Ghetto by Elvis Presley.
Elvis gets political, telling the sad story of a young man who grows up angry and disenfranchised in one of America?s many ghettos. The King at his mournful best, and I love the backing vocals.
J) John Leyton - Johnny Remember Me.
A great example of the easy charm that early 60s pop had before the Beatles. It?s beautifully produced by the legendary Joe Meek, with a wonderful ethereality to the backing vocalists (who are supposed to be ghosts). Whatever happened to John Leyton?
K) Kenny Rogers - The Gambler.
Somehow one of the most satisfying songs ever recorded. A young man on a train gets helpful life advice from an itinerant gambler. ?If you?re gonna play the game boy, you?ve got to learn to play it right.? A masterful country track that reduces all life?s problems to a series of contrived poker metaphors.
L) Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra - Some Velvet Morning.
Hazlewood is a largely forgotten genius (although he has the obligatory cult following). His later stuff, which is fantastic, has a Johnny-Cash-meets-Bob-Dylan vibe, but with an odd sense of humour. His earlier work, often in collaboration with Nancy Sinatra, is far more lounge. This song is kind of nonsensical, kind of sinister, and entirely brilliant. Recently covered by Primal Scream and Kate Moss, apparently.
M) Boney M - Rasputin.
Oh my word yes. One of the silliest songs ever recorded, a disco biography of pre-Revolutionary Russia?s lecherous, sinister monk. The best bits are the heavily German accented spoken word sections. ?And so they shot him till he was dead.?
N) A boy from Nowhe
re by Tom Jones. (N is for Nowhere, all right?)
Tom?s greatest achievement (and that?s saying something), this overwrought epic is about a poor young man who wants to become a bullfighter. Six minutes of over-the-top orchestration, with the famous Jones voice belting it out wonderfully. ?Not a man alive/Had to beg or steal of fight more than me to survive.?
O) Riz Ortolani - Theme from Cannibal Holocaust.
Cannibal Holocaust is a horrible film, a squalid video nasty that most people will find appalling on every level. The theme tune, on the other hand, is a slushy but oddly charming instrumental love theme. I?ve listened to the music so often that I don?t associate it with the film any more.
P) Peter Wyngarde - Neville Thumbcatch.
Another novelty record. Peter Wyngarde (who played Jason King) released an entertaining but completely baffling spoken word album in the late 60s. This is the best song, a sad story about a man who?s so obsessed with his allotment that he doesn?t notice his wife leaving him. This is a bit like those William Shatner songs, but a lot funnier and well worth repeated listening.
Q) Queen - Fat Bottomed Girls.
Few bands can match Queen?s 70s output in terms of quality. This is Brian May?s tribute to the well-built lady. It?s terrific.
R) Jimmy Ruffin - What Becomes of the Broken Hearted.
The saddest song ever written, a Motown classic. Many?s the time I?ve sat in my bedroom, alone, listening to this over and over again, sobbing uncontrollably, drinking wine straight out of the bottle. Ahh, good times.
S) Scott Walker - The Girls and the Dogs.
One of Walker?s superb Jacques Brel covers, this is a light-hearted l
ittle ditty about how dogs are preferable to girls (on the grounds that dogs are friendly and undemanding while girls aren?t). Not a song that takes itself seriously, and delivered with gusto by Walker?s fantastic pantomime villain voice.
T) The Tornadoes - Telstar.
Possibly the single greatest piece of music ever recorded. The pinnacle of loony Joe Meek?s career, this fantastic instrumental perfectly evokes weird 60s English ideas of how space flight should sound. This is Margaret Thatcher?s favourite song, proving that there?s good and bad in everyone.
U) Velvet Underground - Femme Fatale.
I think this is my favourite Velvets song because of Nico?s rather clumsy rendering of the lyrics. If only she?d stuck around for their later albums. ?She?s going to break your heart in two. It?s true?.
V) Black Veils of Melancholy by Status Quo.
Not the denim clad pub rock of 70s Quo, this is from their all-too-brief flower power era. It?s obvious they weren?t really hippies, and were just aping what they took to be the prevailing sound of the day, but this is magnificent. It has a great guitar riff and rather silly lyrics. I could listen to this one forever.
W) Wives and Lovers by Jack Jones.
A very politically incorrect Burt Bacharach song, warning ladies that just because they?ve got themselves a husband they mustn?t stop trying. It offers dire warnings and helpful advice (?Day after day there are girls at the office/And men will always be men/Don?t send him off with your hair still in curlers/You may not see him again?). A fascinating and hilarious glimpse into the way things used to be.
X) The Legend of Xanadu by Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick and Tich
A fantastic example
of 60s pop at its most unrestrained. Although the lyrics are mournful, the tune is ebullient, and it?s very hard not to like this. Particularly good is the counterpoint between the Latin aspirations of the music and the very English accent on display during the spoken word segment.
Y) Neil Young - Pocahontas.
What better way to commemorate the late Marlon Brando than to include in this list the only song I know that mentions him? This is a nice if slightly daft song about Native Americans. Marlon Brando turns up at the end.
Z) Ziw-zih Ziw-zih oo-oo-oo by Delia Derbyshire.
Z is a difficult letter. Delia Derbyshire worked for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in the 60s, and is generally recognised as an important pioneer of electronic music. Her best known work is the arrangement for the original Dr Who theme, but this is more fun even than that. Created for a BBC science fiction play, it?s meant to represent robots worshipping their god. It?s superb.
I hope I?ve not bored you all senseless (of course I haven?t, you?d have just stopped reading then, wouldn?t you?)
The rules ~
Just three simple rules to adhere to:
1) Use all the letters of the alphabet.
2) Only one choice per letter , ie. no listing close seconds.
3) Give reasons for your choices.
~ Hints ~
Using all the letters may seem an easy task , but believe me , you'll soon discover that some are considerably more difficult than others . Then of course you have the enviable task of choosing just one record .
So here are some hints to help you complete the challenge :
1) Solo artists , duo's or groups are allowed - use them wisely,
e.g. Lionel Richie and
the Commodores could come under L , R and C.
2) Album tracks as well as single releases are allowed , but not whole albums.
3) Proper names and stage names can be used
e.g. Fredrick Bulsara = Freddie Mercury.